Prime Minister Imran Khan has endorsed re-polling in 20 polling stations in NA-75 amid allegations of irregularities by the opposition and the Election Commission of Pakistan’s subsequent decision to withhold the election result.
On Friday, at least two people were shot dead as a result of firing at the polling place. Both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had alleged irregularities during the by-election on the National Assembly seat in Daska. Subsequently, the ECP withheld the results, saying it suspected irregularities in 20 polling stations.
The commission said results of the NA-75 constituency were received with “unnecessary delay”, adding that it tried to contact the presiding officers several times but with no success.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also took the government to the task over alleged rigging in the by-election. Speaking to reporters, the PML-N vice president said that the events that transpired in the aftermath of voting in Daska have exposed the PTI government. She had said the government’s alleged plan to steal votes was foiled by people who guarded their vote.
The PML-N vice president had accused the ruling party of taking the “20 presiding officers” hostage. She had questioned why out of the 361 polling stations, the staff of only 20 polling stations had to go missing during the “fog” and why were the results of these polling stations suddenly changed when the officers returned after 12 hours.
In the backdrop of these allegations, the PM, in a series of tweet, reaffirmed his pledge to hold transparent elections in Pakistan. “Have always struggled for fair & free elections. So even though there is no legal compulsion to do so before ECP announces results, I would request our PTI candidate to ask for re-polling in the 20 polling stations Opposition is crying hoarse over in the Daska NA 75 bye- election,” Imran tweeted.
“It is because we want transparency that we are seeking open ballot for Senate elections,” said Imran in reference to the upcoming elections in Senate that have become controversial after the government promulgated an ordinance to end secret ballot amid protests by the opposition.
“Unfortunately others lack this commitment. When we wanted 4 constituencies opened after the 2013 elections, it took us over two years,” Imran said, referring to alleged rigging in 2013 election. The PTI had staged a months-long sit-in in protest against the 2013 election that saw PML-N rose to power.